Cricket: Green wicket has Tim Southee wide-eyed before first test against Sri Lanka

The sight of a nice green tinge to the Basin Reserve wicket has Tim Southee's attention ahead of the first test against Sri Lanka starting Saturday.

Southee took a back seat in the spin-friendly conditions of the UAE series victory against Pakistan, but the veteran paceman is eager to get the ball swinging in Wellington.

"It's nice to be back in conditions we're used to, as I say we've come from a place that wasn't easy especially for pace bowlers so there was a bit of a spring in the step of the pace bowlers anyway," Southee told Newshub.

But just who will make up that pace attack is still to be decided.

Neil Wagner took a seven-wicket haul at the Basin 12-months ago, while Matt Henry has returned from a record-breaking England county season.

"Matt Henry has been banging down the door for a couple of years and obviously Neil sat out the last game, so no one enjoys sitting out but it's healthy to have that competition," said Southee.

"It's no secret Sri Lanka hit New Zealand shores on a downward slide after recently losing their home series to England

In the last three-years, the team has had five different captains, five different head coaches, and four different batting coaches

"It's not easy when we are swapping management but we know what we have to do, and we have some experience and we know the game plan," Southee said.

In contrast, a series win here would see the Blackcaps up to number two in the test rankings - but Southee says the strength of this side is their ability to focus on the present

"We don't know what it's going to play like until we get out there - you can get in and it can be a batting paradise," Southee cautioned.